tv Museum of the American Revolution Opens in Philadelphia CSPAN April 19, 2017 10:26pm-12:08am EDT
public service by america's cable television companies and is brought to you today by your cable or satellite provider. the new museum of the american revolution has opened in philadelphia just blocks from independence hall and the liberty bell. the opening ceremony included former vice president joe biden, david mcculloch and cokie roberts. this is an hour and 40 minutes. ♪ ♪
>> ladies and gentlemen, please recognize the color guards from each of the original 13 states as they are introduced in the order in which each state ratified the u.s. constitution and entered the union. delaware, first delaware regiment. [ applause ] pennsylvania, first troop philadelphia city calvary. [ applause ] new jersey, old barracks museum. [ applause ] georgia, sons of the revolution in the state of georgia. [ applause ]
connecticut, the governors foot and horse guard. [ applause ] massachusetts, 54th massachusetts volunteer regiment. [ applause ] maryland, maryland society, sons of the american revolution. [ applause ] south carolina. south carolina national guard. [ applause ] new hampshire, first new hampshire regiment. [ applause ] virginia, the virginia military institute regimental color guard. [ applause ] new york, ninth new york field artillery veteran core of artillery of the state of new york. [ applause ] north carolina, the over mountain men.
at the twilight's last gleaming? ♪ ♪ whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight ♪ ♪ o'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming? ♪ ♪ and the rockets' red glare the bombs bursting in air ♪ ♪ gave proof through the night that our flag was still there ♪ ♪ oh, say, does that star-spangled banner
ceo of the museum of the american revolution, michael quinn. [ applause ] >> thank you so much. our deepest thanks to the color guards of the original 13 states and to the color guard of the third u.s. infantry regiment, the old guard, as well as to the curtis institute of music. what a wonderful start to a very momentous opening. [ applause ] >> this is the third part of our opening celebration. our program began this morning at the tomb of the unknown soldier of the american revolution in washington square, where we honor those who sacrificed their lives to create our nation. our program continued in front of independence hall where we celebrated the future of that
nation and the yutsz wouth who e legacy of the great ideals founded at that time. and now we we're at the museum of the american revolution. we are celebrating not just the opening of the museum, but the people and the ideas of the revolution, and the great landmarks and the history of philadelphia. and we are grateful to the many faith leaders, the students, and the others who have made this day possible. the museum we opened today tells the story of the creation of the american nation, how people from all walks of life found a bond in the soaring ideals of equality, freedom and self governance who consecrated that bond by their courage and sacrifice through eight years of warfare. that bond is what turns them into the unified people of one nation, and has done so for every generation since. this museum celebrates and belongs to the american people. there are many distinguished
speakers with us on this joyful day. and we will introduce them as they speak. we are grateful for their enthusiasm and their support. and we are pleased to welcome many additional special guests. the governor of the commonwealth of virginia, terry mcauliffe. the lieutenant governor of north carolina, dan forrest. the lieutenant governor of rhode island, dan mckee. the former governor of delaware michael castle, the former governor of new jersey, james florio, the former governor of maryland martin o'malley, and the former governor of philadelphia and our great city of philadelphia, edward rendell. thank you for speaking at independence hall. [ applause ] . >> i'm also pleased to recognize congressman kyle where the for joining us and members of the city council of philadelphia,
mark, leslie, and sherell parker. thank you. [ applause ] >> we are joined by our great partner, the superintendent of independence national historical park cynthia macleod. [ applause ] it is such a privilege when the architect of this great landmark new building, robert stern and his associates join us. bob, we are delighted you came. [ applause ] and we're also joined by the founder of intech construction who built this museum on time and on budget, will schwartz, a new member of the museum -- the board of the museum of the american revolution. [ applause ] we have guests in many places and we are so honored that leaders of museums and cultural
institutions come across philadelphia are with us today. you are too numerous to support. so raise your hands so that everyone knows that you are here. thank you. [ applause ] for turning out and joining us and welcoming us as we proudly join your ranks as one of the great cultural institutions of this city. we're also joined by people from many other institutions, but probably no one is -- has come further or is more special to us than ellen shicktans and her family from china and japan, the donors who have donated the two wonderful bronze sculptural panels on the chestnut street side of the museum depicting washington crossing the delaware and the deck claire of the independence. thank you so much. [ applause ] there are leaders from many distinguished institution from
across the nation today, and i'm delighted to recognize some of them. steve rockwood, ceo of family search international from salt lake city, utah. louise mirror, president and ceo of the new york historical society. jack duane warren, executive director of the society of cincinnati. john gray, director of the smithsonian national museum of american history, ann turner dylan, president of general of the national society of the daughterers of the american revolution. james mann, executive director of the pennsylvania historical and museum commission. stephanie stebeck director of the smithsonian american history american art miami. rob schenck, vice president of george washington's mount vernon. susan stein, vice president of thomas jefferson monticello. ruth taylor, executive director of the new port historical
society. catherine robinson, president and ceo of historical charleston foundation. david roselle comes executive director of the museum, garden and library. beth hill, president and ceo of fort ticonderoga in new york. and bonnie joe griffith of the delaware tribe of indians. [ applause ] and now i i'd like to introduce the members of the board of directors of the museum of the american revolution. will you raise your hand so everyone knows where you are and that you are here today. [ applause ] these are the volunteers who have guided and sustained the multi-year initiative to create the museum. and now it is a very great pleasure to welcome the mayor of the great city of philadelphia, mayor jim kinney.
[ applause ] >> good morning, everyone. i can't tell you how proud i am as a native lifelong philadelphian to be standing here in front of this building and in front of all the great dignitaries that have come here today. i'm just personally very much honored. it's fantastic to see so many out there helping us open this exciting new addition to our cities already thriving historic district. those looking to learn more about the founding of the country have already made visiting philadelphia a priority. the museum of the american revolution will bring these people back while also giving those who haven't yet made the trip more incentive to do so. philadelphia is named the world heritage city because it serves as a backdrop for the formation of our country. this museum will provide greater insight into the sacrifices that were made in order to make the ideas that were first discussed
in independence hall a reality. this museum will provide us with a much deeper appreciation of what it means to live free. i think the most important part of this museum for me, as i've gone through it, is it acknowledges fully and totally the contributions of other folks who made this country great, african-americans, native americans, women, and all others besides those who signed the declaration of independence. without all of them this never would have happened and they are finally fully acknowledged in this space. and i think that's wonderful. [ applause ] and jerry, you are a great philadelphian and great american and i'm honored to know you. and grateful to see you here today. thank you very much, everyone. [ applause ]
>> thank you. please welcome the governor of the commonwealth of pennsylvania, tom wolfe. [ applause ] >> thank you very much, mayor kinney. thank you for your comments. and it's great to be here, and i want to welcome all of you who are from out of town to pennsylvania. i just want to point out that the weather is always like this in pennsylvania. [ laughter ] again, i want to thank all of our distinguished guests for being here today, i would especially like to welcome vice president joe biden. vice president. [ cheers and applause ] we are truly honored to have you here today since your began your
career, you have stood up for the middle class, for families and for the less fortunate everywhere. your time in the white house has made this country even better and i just want to welcome you back home to pennsylvania. [ applause ] i'm proud to be here to help commemorate the opening of the new museum, this museum of the american revolution that will act as a monument to the lives of those who created this great nation. there is no better home for this museum that in philadelphia. than in pennsylvania. am i right? [ applause ] this museum tells a story of the women and the men who created this nation, right here in philadelphia, where this nation began. located within only a few blocks of the museum are a number of historic treasures that tell the story of how a loose band of
colonials toppled a mighty empire and created a nation that has led the world for over two centuries. from independence hall to the site of the liberty bell to the presidents house, to congress hall, to the tomb of the unknown revolutionary war soldiers, all around us are reminders of the struggle that our founders undertook to create a nation dedicated to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. now we have a museum solely dedicated, for the first time, to the lives and the sacrifice of those early americans who for far too long have gone nameless and uncongressmen rated. those who fought and struggled ultimately won our independence and deserve our respect. only a couple of blocks away in enblazened on the tomb of the unknown soldier of the revolutionary war are the words, quote, freedom is a light for which many men and women have died in darkness. this museum will aim to turn the light on and to tell the story of those real women and men from pennsylvania and from all over the world who have made this
country what it is, and who shocked the world 240 years ago, by doing the impossible by defeating the mighty empire. i can't think of a more fitting tribute to their memories, and i'm glad that pennsylvania will play home to this new treasure. i want to thank all of those who came together to make this project a success, and i want to thank michael wyquynh who has bn up here. can we just get a round of applause to michael quinn. [ applause ] michael will lead this museum with great success writer in philadelphia. so again thank you all for being here. thank you for helping us celebrate this great moment in american history. thank you. [ applause ] >> please welcome noted author and two-time recipient of the pulitzer prize, david mccullough. [ applause ]
mccullough. [ applause ] >> what a morning. what a morning to be grateful we are americans. [ applause ] what a morning to celebrate our past, and what that teaches us about how we should move forward into the days that come. the american revolution still goes on. the american revolution was one of the most important events of all time. and very much of it happened right here in this great, storied city.
it's not easy to understand the past, because for one thing, no one ever lived in the past. they live in the present that was their present, not ours. and we have to not only understand who they were, what they set out to achieve, how successful they may have been, but we have to understand the time in which they lived. we have to not only understand what they wrote, but what they read, because if we don't understand what they read we won't understand why they said or wrote what they did. they were real people. history is human. when in the course of human events, "human" is the operative word. we can learn more from history than any other subject, because
it is about the human experience. and we can learn more about our country, our people, our past, our heart and soul as a civilization, by knowing more about the american revolution. we can never, ever know enough about the american revolution. and the opening of this magnificent museum is not just a moment to celebrate here in philadelphia, but all over our country. this is a moment of national importance and cause to celebrate. [ applause ] one of the easiest, most obvious lessons of history is almost
nothing of consequence, it has ever been accomplished alone. it's a joint effort. our country is a joint effort. this city is a joint effort. and this marvelous museum is a joint effort. a joint effort. and i think we should pay tribute to all of those who worked for 16 years to make this happen, and congratulations and god bless you. [ applause ] and no one deserves more credit than gerry lenfest. [ applause ] i think today we should all go away from this ceremony standing taller because of who we are and what we believe in, what we
stand for, the values we still hold dear to us. and this museum will do more to teach the oncoming generations about the importance of the revolution, not just in the military sense, but in a sense of ideas and the human spirit that anything we've ever had. high time we should such a museum as this. [ applause ] history isn't just about politics and war. history is about art and music and architecture -- architecture. [ laughter ] and history is about poetry and about memory through the arts. we have a broadway show right now, a "hamilton." we have the work of john
trumbull. we have the architecture of that marvelous period and of now. bob sternz work right here. this is a major work of architecture. [ applause ] this is april 19th, 2017. here is a poem from april 19th, 1837. 180 years ago, written by ralph waldo emerson. by the bridge that arched the flood, there flagged april's breeze unfurled stood. and fired the shot heard round the world. the foe long since in silence slept like the conqueror silent sleeps. and time and ruin bridge has swept down the dark stream which
seaward creeps. on this green bank, by this soft stream, we set today a votive stone that memory may their deed redeem when like our sires, our sons are gone. spirit that made those heroes dare to die and leave their children free, bid time and nature gently spare the shaft we raise to thee. spirit, spirit and perseverance. george washington once said, to me it's one of the most powerful messages ever to all of us, perseverance and spirit, perseverance and spirit have done wonders in all ages. [ applause ]
>> announcer: please welcome oneida nation representative and ceo of indian nation enterprises ray hall ritter. [cheering and applauding] >> thank you for that kind introduction. it's truly an honor to follow one of america's greatest historians. i bring you greetings of peace from the indian nation and our people began gatherings and have since since time memorial with a thanksgiving address with these thoughts that we all come together in peace as one, and we give thanks to what we have and our minds become as one. native members have traveled here to be part of the special day, know that prayer well. we are so fortunate that together we could be here to
celebrate the grand opening of such an important museum, one that recognizes the oneida's significant role in the establishment of the united states of america. today is a day of gratitude. the nation is proud that our ancestors will be memorialized in the museum of the american revolution. we are thankful that such great american leaders like mayor kenny, governor wolf, governor randall and former vice-president joe biden are here with us today. jerry lenfest, your determination and contributions kept the museum and revolution in motion, and for that we are forever thankful. at a time when we experience so much political acrimony, it is gratifying to see leaders and organizes from all walks of life come together to honor our nation's founding. just as the thanksgiving prayer says, this is also a day that gives my people great peace of mind because it is the culmination of years of work to preserve, honor and enshrine our historic role in the founding of this country.
never forget is a refrain we often hear about history. the phrase implores us to preserve our heritage and it also reminds us that without effort, our past can be erased from our memories. few know this better than native americans and we are proud to be taking steps to make sure our role in this nation's founding is remembered. and that the stories of our history are told and retold for generations to come. with today's opening of the national museum of the american revolution, we are rescuing the history of this country's birth and native americans' role in it from the dark abyss of the memory ch asm. as a proud supporter of this wonderful new facility, the nation is proud to be part of this initiative because we believe it is a critical facet of both preserving the history of the united states and honoring indigenous people's role in building this great country of ours. today many americans have no knowledge of native americans' role in the revolution, but now they have a chance to hear the
rich and compelling story of how our people reached across cultural lines and worked together with the founders in the unified fight for freedom. the history of my ancestors' pivotal coalition with those fighting british tierney began well before the founders had any other allies that came to the aid of the revolution. before the french, it was the oneida people who became george washington's first allies at great sacrifice to us. it was we who took up afrmz in support of the colonial neighbors at the battle, considered by many historians to be the bloody est battle of the revolution. that battle cemented the long-standing friendship between the tribe and the colonies and made us the very first allies of this country. our blood was mingled with the colonists blood. our bones were mixed with the bones of the patriots. to be sure it is a troubling -- it is troubling that this history has often been omitted from america's founding story. but those omissions only
underscore the significance of this new facility and the moral imperative of the museum's mission. the museum makes sure that we are not succumbing to reductionism and not oversimplifying the beginnings of america. the details are preserved and stories of sacrifice are passed on to future generations as our grand mothers and grandfathers have admonished us to do so. preserving and teaching the true founding story of america is not an exercise in self-congratulations. it makes sure that an increasingly diverse nation's history accurately reflects the diversity of its foundational story. this is particularly important for people of color who too often are victims of historical revisionism, distortion and omission. native american heritage, for example, has too often been fictionalized or all together omitted in ways that are both factually inaccurate and deeply destructive. in an ever more diverse country, it is more critical than ever for future generations to learn
and appreciate their multi cultural roots and history. making sure we preserve that multi cultural story is not a radical or dangerous idea. more than two centuries after my ancestors fought side by side with general george washington, our ancestors deserve their place in our collective memory about this country's founding. while their bodies died for our future, we now ensure that their memories will not. in erecting this museum, we are also protecting the longevity of the american revolution's core ideals for generations to come. two centuries after the war, those notions of liberty, equality, and democracy remain as revolutionary as ever and an inspiration to the world. when my ancestors joined with the colonists they were standing in solidarity for these i am utable ideals. just as our country still stands in defense of those ideals today. in latin that spirit of solidarity is summoned by the
model from the many one. in native american thanksgiving prayer, we have that similar verse. we bring our minds together as one. and in the spirit of that prayer, let us give thanks today for this museum and its work protecting the ideals of america and its founding story. we are doing our part to make sure that the spirit of the american revolution endures and that the diverse roots of america's founding are enshrined for posterity. [ applause ] [cheering and applauding] >> announcer: please welcome colonel john bircher, a recipient of the purple heart for combat service in vietnam and representing the military order of the purple heart. [ applause ]
>> thank you. it is such a great honor to be able to be here today. i want to thank general jumper and mike quin and vice-president joe biden. what an honor it was to meet you today, mr. vice-president. we miss [ laughter ] [ applause ] can i see a show of hands, how many of you in the audience are veterans? [ applause ] wow. well, i'm here today on behalf of a special group of veterans. the 1.7 million men and women who have either given their lives or have been wounded in
combat, serving to protect the freedoms that we've all come to take so much for granted. i can tell you that the cost of freedom is not free. it's paid for in the blood of the sons and daughters of our mothers, fathers, sisters, and especially the spouses. general george washington at the end of the revolutionary war wanted to do something to recognize the fidelity and bravery of the common soldier, not officers, but rather the ncos and privates who served in the continental army. and, so, he created on the seventh of august, 1782, the very first declaration in the colonial army called the badge of merit. it was a simple piece of purple cloth inscribed with the word
"merit" on it. at first we thought there were only about four people who had received it, but our research in the archives has now shown that we know of at least 27 men who received the badge of merit. but after the revolutionary war, it went into disuse, and in 1932, then chief of staff of the army general macarthur wanted to do something to recognize the 200th birthday of george washington. and, so, he brought the badge of merit out of retirement and recreated it as the medal that i wear today. it's the same purple heart, and on the back has the words "for military merit" but on the face has the likeness of george washington to recognize all that he did in founding the country. as i mentioned, there have been 1.7 million recipients of the purple heart medal.
every single veteran has served and sacrificed something. some gave all, but all gave some. and, so, it's an honor for me to be able to be here on behalf of those purple heart recipients who have served and sacrificed their lives, protecting the freedoms that we all enjoy today. thank you so much. [ applause ]
[cheering and applauding] >> yeah? i can't tell you what a great day it is to celebrate the birth of our country. every day is a great day to celebrate american history. it's alive here in philly. it's everywhere. and it is my honor to be here for the opening of this gem in your city and in our country, the museum of the american revolution. it's fantastic, yes. [ applause ] >> long time coming. this next song is particularly relevant because of an exhibit inside this museum. as an actor, especially in a period play, you're always imagining your surroundings, what was it like, what did it sound like, were there doors, were there lights, so many little things. and i can't tell you how many hours i've spent imagining
washington's command tent. it's inside this building, that tent. seeing it in person, it was so moving, it gave this next song new meaning for me. it takes place on the eve of the battle of york town, roughly 1781, and david mccullough can correct me if i get anything wrong. [ laughter ] and general washington was giving hamilton his first command and some sage advice. washington had the forethought to know that the actions they were taking were going to reverberate through history for hundreds if not thousands of years. he warned us of demagogues and gave sage advice to hamilton about how to use this power. i have to say there may be no
greater moment for me than to get to perform this song in front of our vice-president who embodies the ideals that george washington spoke about. and i want to thank you for your service, mr. joe biden. thank you, sir. [ applause ] this next song is called "history has its eyes on you." ♪ hum-hum ♪ i was younger than you are now when i was given my first command ♪ i led my train into a massacre, i witnessed their deaths firsthand ♪ i made every mistake, i felt the shame rise in me
♪ and even now i lie awake, knowing history has -- ♪ oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh ♪ history has its eye on me ♪ oh, oh, oh, yeah ♪ let me tell you what i wish i'd known when i was young and dreamed of glory ♪ to have no control who lives, who dies, who tells your story ♪ i know that we can win, i know that greatness lies in you ♪ but remember from here on in,
history has its eye on you ♪ oh, oh, oh, ♪ oh, oh, oh, ♪ history has its eye on you ♪ [ applause ] >> history does have its eyes on us. everywhere you look, there is history reverberating. this is like a theme park for history. [ laughter ] >> it is, everywhere you look. and in particular, alexander hamilton walked these streets. his buildings for the treasury office were right there. that's the first bank of america, and our next song -- yeah, let's hear it for the first bank of america. [ applause ] >> we have a lot now. but our next song details how
that bank got its charter. hamilton was obsessed as treasury secretary with getting a debt plan passed and paying for all the debt they incurred with the war. and the southern democratic republicans were dead set that he would not pass it. and he had to turn to the political machine, something he didn't really enjoy, but to make some trades to see what he could get done. never before, i think, has a song made passing a debt plan sexy and danceable. [ laughter ] >> so, it's got that going for it. it also happens to be the platform and the impetus for aaron burr to jump into a political life. he was laying back at the time. and when he saw the kind of power that hamilton could wield, he wanted in. helping me we have playing the role of hamilton, gracious and
taylor. we have thomas jefferson is ramiq, and we have james madison as desi. [ applause ] >> this song is called "the room where it happens." ♪ ah, mr. secretary. >> mr. burr, sir. >> did you hear the news about general mer is he? >> no. >> the legacy is secure. >> sure. >> and all they had to do was die. >> that's a lot less work. >> we ought to give it a try. now how are you going to get your debt plan through? >> i guess i'm going to finally have to listen to you. >> really? ♪ talk less, smile more ♪ do whatever it takes to get my plan on the congress floor >> now, madison and jefferson are mercy else. ♪ well, hate the sin, love the sinner. >> hamilton. >> sorry, i have to go.
decisions are happening over dinner. >> two virginiians and an immigrant walk into a room diametrically opposed, they merge with the compromise over doors that were previously closed. unprecedented power, he can shape however he wants, the virginians emerge with the nation's capital and here's the resistance. ♪ no one else was in the room where it happened, the room where it happened, the room where it happened. no one else was in the room where it happened, the room where it happened, where it happened. ♪ no one really knows how the game is played, the art of trade how the stuff gets made, we just assume that it happens, but no one else is in the room where it happens ♪ thomas claimed >> i walked into the doorstep one day in disarray. alexander -- >> nowhere else to turn. >> and basically join the fray.
>> thomas klay. >> i said, i know you hate him but let's hear what he has to say. >> thomas klay. >> as i raise the meeting, i arrange the meeting the venue and the seating. >> but no one else was in the room where it happened ♪ the room where it happened, the room where it happened ♪ no one else was in the room where it happened, the room where it happened, the room where it happened ♪ no one really knows how it gets yes, the peace and sacrifice ♪ we just assume that it happens, no but no one else is in the room where it happens >> meanwhile madison is grappling with the fact that not every issue can be settled by committee. >> meanwhile. >> congress is fighting over where to put the capital. it isn't pretty. jefferson approaches with the dinner and invite and madison response with virginia insight. >> maybe we can solve one problem with another and win a victory for the southerners in
other words a quid pro quo. >> wouldn't you like to work a little closer to home? >> actually, i would. >> well, i propose the potomac. >> and you'll provide -- >> we'll see how it goes. >> let's go. >> no. ♪ no one else was in the room where it happens, the room where it happens, the room where it happens ♪ no one else was in the room where it happened, the room where it happened >> my god, in god we trust, we never really know what got discussed. click, boom, then it happened. and no one knows what's in the room where it happened. >> alexander hamilton. >> what did they say to you to get you to sell new york city down the river. >> alexander hamilton >> did washington know about the dinner was a presidential institute in reverse? >> alexander hamilton >> or did you know even then it doesn't matter where you put the u.s. capital >> we'll have a fix. we're in the same spot. >> you got more than you gave. >> and i wanted what i got when you got skin in the game, you stay in the game. but you don't get a win unless you play in the game.
oh, you get love for it, you get hate for it, you dwet nothing if you wait for it, wait for it, wait for it, wait. to god help me, i want something that's going to outlive me. ♪ i wan yna be in the room wher it happens, in the room where it happens ♪ i wanna be in the room where it happens, the room where it happens ♪ i, i wanna be in the room where it happens ♪ i, i, i wanna be in the room where it happens ♪ oh, oh, oh, i wanna be, i gotta be, i got to be, i got to be in the room, in that big old room ♪ hold your nose and close your eyes ♪ we want to be --
♪ don't get to say what to trade away ♪ we dream about the starz ♪ what we dream in the dark for the most part >> in the room where it happens, i got to be in the room where it happens. i got to be -- i got to be oh, i got to be in the room where it happens. i got to be, i got to be, i got to be ♪ i wanna be in the room where it happens >> click boom. [cheering and applauding] >> thank you so much. guys? one time, let's hear it for the students of c app a in philly. thank you so much. [ applause ] >> my pleasure.
>> announcer: please welcome the best-selling author of histories of american women and political commentator for abc news and npr, cokie roberts. [ applause ] >> so beautiful, and wasn't this quite wonderful? [ applause ] >> singing about history. mr. vice-president, honored guests and supporters, and especially the young people here
today, i have a message. history has its eyes on you. it's true that as general washington said in the song, that you have no control over who tells your story. but it's important that history and that of the other heroins and heroes of the revolution be told and of course that's what we're celebrating here today. you know, there are many stories of bravery on the battle field, in the eight long years of the american revolution. but there are many other stories of people not in combat but in support of the cause, the cause of the idea that became america. take martha washington. she would brave bad roads. she was a [ inaudible ].
all of that hardship, and think of it, just getting through the day in the 18th century was very hard. she was not worried about herself. she was worried about the troops and so she organized. she became publicly active in a way that a good citizen should. she organized the ladies association of pennsylvania where she was elected the leader. and then put together teams of women to go door to door around philadelphia and the suburbs, and to collect money for the troops. and the publicity about it spurred women in other states to act as well. as the first lady of pennsylvania, she wrote to all the other first ladies in the states and asked them to start fund-raising drives for the troops as well. in fact, the only extant letter
of martha jefferson we have because thomas jefferson burned all her letters, for which i could kill him again. [ laughter ] >> but the only one we have is her letter as the first lady of virginia asking the women of virginia to go to their rural churches and donate money for the troops so that they may have an opportunity of proving that they also participate in this virtuous feelings. in just a couple of weeks the women raised -- the women in philadelphia raised $300,000 and expected more from the other states to come in. it was almost equal to what robert morris had painstakingly raised to capitalize this bank. so, then she had a fight with general washington about how to spend the money. he wanted it first, she wanted to do something more special for the troops. he was the general. after a series of intense
letters, he won and shirts were made. and after that she was just shy of her 34th birthday, but disentry came raging through philadelphia and she succumbed to it. the council and the assembly adjourned for her funeral because she was such a noted personage. the business of the ladies association was taken up by sara frankly beige, and the women did what the general asked and made shirts, 2200 of them in one place for the troops. but just to show that it was something special from the women of america, every woman sewed her own name in the shirt so the soldier knew there was a woman who cared about him, a citizen who cared about him, out there, grateful for the work that he was doing.
and it tied them over, it kept them going until the battle field victory started to come in and the french finally arrived. they no longer criticized esther reid. if she stayed home and worried about her children and privately voiced her concerns about the troops, but that's not what she did. she decided to make a difference, to engage not only herself, but many other women in the effort to make a difference. she put skin in the game for her country, a country that would deprive her of political and legal rights. it's what joe biden has been doing for his entire adult life despite personal disasters and political disappointments, he stayed in the room where it happens, and he knows that that's the room. [ applause ] that's the way you win at the game. that's the way you make a difference for your country.
and that's what you young people are called upon to do as citizens of this great republic that our forefathers and mothers fought for on the battle field and in the public square over the centuries. it's my hope that this beautiful new museum helps inspire you to become those active involved citizens in this very great country because history has his eyes on you. [ applause ] >> announcer: please welcome vincent brown, the charles warren professor of history at harvard university. [ applause ] >> thank you all for coming out today. it's a real incredible honor to be here.
this museum has been a long time coming. it's startling to think we're only now dedicating a museum to the american revolution, but perhaps that's a good thing. too often museums are where history goes to die. people can be forgiven for thinking that anyway. yet history is commemorated and revered with complex events shrouded in sacred legends. legends are powerful. they can promote people to heroism, loyalty to a cause, high ideals and encouraged to carry them out. but they can be brittle, bent too sharply, challenged with too much contrary evidence and snap and we're weaker for it. the history of revolution is and should be a living history. as alive in the aspirations of the present as it was in the dreams and deeds of the past. this kind of history is messy and contradictory.
tragic and ironic as often as it is heroic. it also has the virtue of being closer to the truth. so, i'm grateful, deeply grateful to the curators of this exhibit for having the courage to tell that truth, to show us not only a proud story of national origin, but a multifaceted account of how one might have experienced a time of such turmoil, the dangers presented, the hope it offered, the uncertain outcomes of agonizing decisions. while there are momentous events to commemorate and men to revere according to custom, in this museum, american people are on display and from the perspective of people, history is a predicament rather than a sequence of singular events to be glorified, memorialized and made sacred. this is a living exhibit, a rendering of the fraught and vex vexing nature of revolutionary
times. from george washington's tent, we can imagine the tension he must have felt when making life and death decisions that would reverberate across the continent and indeed the world. when we see the shackles used to enslave and restrain a childlike perhaps those used to restrain washington's own slaves, we are reminded the nation did not stand for freedom for all, it would come to hold the largest slave population in the history of the world, and yet the revolution continued to inspire. we can turn our attention even if own briefly to harry washington. he escaped from mt. vernon and joined the british army where he found liberation from bondage, migrated to nova scotia and sierra lee own. 1800, he joined another rebellion against the british in that african colony, and though it failed, he embodied an american spirit of revolution as certainly as george.
75 years after the declaration of independence, the great abolitionist frederick douglas famously asked, what to the slave is the 4th of july? his answer, an inspiration to overthrow the tierney of his day. to side with the right against the wrong, with the weak against the strong, with the oppressed against the oppressor, he said. here lies the merit of those revoluti revolutionaries and those that followed. like dug that is, they were not content with origin stories. we have past struggles as our guide. when we see the american revolution in its own historical presence, we look not only on the granludeur of long dead heroes, but men and women of all sorts, the losses as well as victories and the determination to turn those losses into lessons that would keep them
fighting on. americans can be true to that path by recommitting ourselves for the time to come. taking this history as an inspiration, to make the united states the country we dream and need it to be. i for one feel very fortunate that this museum is alive right now to show a way. [ applause ] >> announcer: please welcome the chairman of the museum of the american revolution and the 17th chief of staff of the united states air force, general john p. jumper. [ applause ] >> mr. vice-president, distinguished guests, gerry, marguerite and your family, the museum of the american revolution honors the courage, the sacrifice, the toil, and the
blood of a generation who dared to fight the war for independence. they did so in a quest to found a nation dedicated to those self-evident values and truths that all people are created equal, and the conviction that citizens of our nation can and should govern themselves. now 242 years after the first shot was fired at concord, the museum will begin its work as an institution that preserves the stories and inspires generations of young people to embrace the meaning of those truths. but as a museum, even as a new museum, we have our own story and our own heroes whose courage, toil and sacrifice made today possible. it is both my pleasure and my duty to thank and recognize them. first, our predecessor, the valley forge historical society founded by the reverend herbert
burke and sustained by many dedicated and selfless people throughout the 20th century. thanks to them, we can present an unparalleled collection of artifacts presented in our museum. to the national park service, which gave up ownership of this land within the independence national historical park so that we could serve the millions who come here every year. to mr. robert stern who designed this landmark building and the skilled and trades men and workers in this city who built it. our highest thanks goes to our staff and to their families led by mike quin who would transform our organization into a full-grown institution, who has overseen the construction, who received the remarkable exhibit program and assembled film makers, digital programmers and artists to bring this all to life for us. none of this would have been possible without the financial
resources generously given by more than 11,000 donors, 11,000 donors, remarkable. [ applause ] not only from philadelphia, but from every state in the union. you will see the names of these major donors chiselled on the stone inside the wall here, inside the entrance of the museum. our deepest thanks go to each and every one of them. but today we reserve our lofty est admiration and deepest respect for the one man most responsible for bringing us to this place on this day, and that is gerry lenfest. [ applause ] >> he is here with his wife marguerite and his family. gerry became the founding chairman in 2005, and although relinquishing that official position last december, he will forever remain that singular
selfless power able to elevate the human spirit and inspire human endeavor. and to deliver this enduring tribute honoring the nation's struggle for independence. gerry, it is a privilege to follow you as chairman and it is a privilege to recognize you for yourselfless dedication and inspiring leadership. ladies and gentlemen, gerry lenfest. [ applause ] >> gerry just asked me to make a few comments on his behalf. although it took many years for the museum of the american revolution to be brought to this nation, it is finally here, and we would like to thank all of those who contributed to its
being. way to go, gerry. [ applause ] >> thank you, marguerite. thank you, gerry. >> well, it's now my duty to introduce our keynote speaker, former vice-president joe biden. [cheering and applauding] >> i'm not sure what more i can say. you heard so much praise of him all absolutely true. but i do want to add that he is actually a son of pennsylvania, born in scranton. [cheering and applauding] but at an early age his family undertook that hazardous crossing of the delaware river. [ laughter ] to settle in wilmington. there mr. biden successfully ran for and won a seat in the u.s. senate in 1972, becoming one of
the youngest senators in american history, and that was just the beginning of a career of one of our nation's great public servants. he won election to the senate six terms and he was elected vice-president twice. ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the 47th vice-president of the united states of america, joe biden. [cheering and applauding] >> thank you very much. ♪ >> thank you. thank you very, very much. you know, those of us who serve in public office for sometime are accustomed to say it's an honor to be here. but this is truly an honor to be invited to participate today,
and to follow such distinguished speakers. and i mean that sincerely. thank you. governor, it's a pleasure to see you again, and mr. mayor. thank you for the passport into philadelphia. and to all the distinguished guests. i was contemplating when i was flattered to be asked to, quote, keynote, and it will not be a long keynote. i was contemplating what i should talk about. and i thought about what i think is the fundamental question. what is this museum intended to stand for? is it for our founders who lived the revolution, who gave their lives for the revolution? what were they attempting to do? what did they stand for?
i think it's important that we answer that question because it's as relevant today as it was then. to paraphrase emerson's poem, what did the people hear when they heard that shot heard round the world? what was it that they heard? what was this experiment about? was it just about independence, a revolution for independence? i think it was about an idea, how to give life to a renaissance idea that a country could actually be governed by its people, all of its people,
its wealthy people, its poor people, its people who could read, who couldn't read, educated, uneducated. the revolutionary notion of the consent of the governed. it seems to me that ultimately why they say america was an idea, the idea that people could govern themselves, not a monarchy, not a governmental system that conferred power on the elite or the military or only the educated. an idea that ordinary people could do extraordinary things given half a chance. it truly was a revolutionary idea, an idea that both
startled, at the same time gave hope to the rest of the world. it's an american idea that i still think gives hope to the rest of the world. i have traveled almost every country in the world. in the last 40 years i've met every major world leader, without exception. why do they look at us the way they do? why are we still the most respected nation in the world? with all our faults and all the mistakes we've made?
our principals, our founders, it seems to me, it's been referenced already, again, what was a revolutionary idea, including the french revolution. we hold these truths self-evident. we hold these truths self-evident. there was nothing self-evident about that assertion when it was made. it says on the wall, all men are created equal, endowed by the creator. we initially asserted that our rights do not come from a government. they come from the mere fact we're children of god.
we exist, therefore, we have these rights. we need not ask anyone for any of the rights we possess. this new republic went on -- would not be defined by a single race or religion, but by those enalienable rights that to our founders were self-evident, and they thought self-executed. but it took 13 years to give those asserted rights, 13 years to put these ideas into a document of governance, the
constitution, the constitution that made our institutions the guarantor, not the deliverer of, but the guarantor of these enalienable rights. it was the vehicle that we constructed here in this city that would enshrine the principles we said we believed in. and unlike any other nation in the world -- and that is no hyperbole in that statement. like any other nation in the world, the united states is uniquely a product of our political institutions. you cannot define an american by race, religion, ethnicity.
you can only define an american by an intuitive commitment to the notion that all men are created equal, endowed by the creator, and guaranteed by that constitution. our constitution and our adherence to its principles are the reason why we remain the most respected, emulated, revered nation in the world, notwithstanding what you hear today from some others. we lead -- [ applause ] i was criticized, most times totally justifiable criticism -- [ laughter ] about 12 years ago when i said
in a major speech that we lead the world not by the example of our power, but by the power of our example. that is not hyperbole. [ applause ] we lead the world by the power of our example. there is nothing guaranteed about our democracy, though. nothing guaranteed about self-governance. there is no guarantee that we'll remain the greatest example of freedom and liberty and equality in the history of the world. no guarantee at all. we have to remind ourselves why we have been able to accomplish so much.
how did we earn that respect? and how can we maintain it? just as the generation of revolutionaries before us did, just like every generation that's followed and will follow. but if you excuse the contemporary comment, the only way this nation can be governed with the consent of the people is we arrive at a consensus that requires a consensus. it requires compromise. it requires reaching out. it requires sometimes
overlooking. someone once said the truly wise parent, i would argue wise government, knows what to overlook as well as what to look at. politics today is pulling us apart at the seams. it's gotten worse. our politics has become too negative, too nasty, too petty, to personal. partisans are not looked at as opponents, but as enemies. we no longer just question the judgment of our opponents. we spend more time questioning their motive, a very presumptuous thing to do.
cokie has heard me say i learned a lesson early on as a young senator. i did not want to go to the senate because of an accident that occurred after i was elected, and a man named mike mansfield, a man who has more integrity in his little finger than most people have in his whole body, came to me and said, you owe it to your deceased wife and child to be sworn in 117, i think he said 12 had ever been sworn in. come stay six months. so, the day i was supposed to be sworn in, as mike cassel knows, i didn't show up, i stayed at the hospital. so he sent the secretary to the hospital to swear me in. when i went down, i got an assignment. i thought every freshman senator got an assignment.
once a week i'd show up and the majority of the leaders' office to report on the assignment i was given. it took me about three months to figure out all he was doing, god love him, as my mother would say, he was taking my pulse to see how i was doing. one day in the end of may following the tradition i had, which was to walk through those doors, double doors down in the well of the senate to check when the last vote would be so i knew which amtrak train i could take to get home to see my sons. and jesse hielms, one of my mentors, teddy kennedy for the precursor for the americans with disabilities act. he was talking about it's not government's obligation to care, deal with the handicap, et cetera. so i walked in and sat down before my meeting, and i guess i looked angry. and he said, what's the matter,
joe? he spoke in clipped terms -- tone. and i said, that jesse helms and i went on to basically say he had no social redeeming value. i didn't understand how he could do what he was doing. he looked at me and said, joe, what would you tell me if i told you that jesse helms was reading the raleigh observer in their hometown of raleigh, north carolina and there was an advertisement for a young man with steel braces up to his hips with steel crutches saying, all i want for christmas is for someone to love me, what would you say if i told you they went and adopted that child? i said, i'd feel foolish. he said, well, they did, joe. he said, i learned a long time ago everyone sent here was sent because their state found something good about them. it's your job to look for that.
it's always appropriate to question a man or woman's judgment, but never their motive because you don't motive because you don't know it. ladies and gentlemen, all we do today is seem to question motive. we need to focus on the things that unite us. focus on what our founders understood, that there is nothing beyond our capability, beyond our capacity, nothing. focus on the model that was referenced by a previous speaker, out of one, many. that's who we are. we're no different. we're so different, but so similar. in our aspirations. we have the cruisable, the constitution in which to make those aspirations sane.
when we act as one america, we always do well. no matter who is in charge. rich, poor, middle class, black, white, asian, hispanic, gay, transgender. could have been generations of those who have only come recently. one america. even when it's not easy, which most of the time it's not. even with xenophobic attitudes, we have always eventually stepped forward. we have always overcome. whether it's martino m o'malleyo i consider a great friend who was an incredible governor, he heard me say this before when he asked me to speak at fort
mchenry's 200th anniversary. i think we're the only country in the world with an anthem, a national anthem that ends with a question. i don't think there is any other. i may be mistaken. i don't think there is any other anthem in the world that ends with a question. does that star spangled banner yet wave? that question and its implicit aspiration has echoed through every single perilous moment in america and has helped us endure over the past two centuries. was it still waving 200 years ago at fort mchenry? was it waving 250 years ago when dawn's early light ripped apart by a civil war? was it waving down the beaches of normandie, in the mines of
korea and the julian assange lz of vietnam, the streets of fallujah, the valley in afghanistan, was it still waving? was it waving over america when an american stood on the moon? our first responders to ground zero? was it waving when a weary president at gettysburg or a preacher with a dream at the lincoln memorial, does it waive over every embassy, every forward position, every ship, every man, every woman in the service of america? every firehouse, ballpark, town and city in this great nation, in the front porches of my house and many of yours, waiting for their return. to state the obvious, thus far the resounding answer is yes.
and it will now and forever wave, but only if we hold si woo it because not the flag that we're waving. it's what lives within us. is it in our heart? do we really understand and mean what this museum is about to celebrate? in the heart of every american is the very idea of america. they don't even know it to articulate it that way. ask the average person when you leave here, go to lunch on the street corner, why do you have the right to do a, b, c or d? they'll tell you, because the constitution says i can.
and they have never even ever read the constitution. folks, it's important, not monument, but reminder we have to fight every day to remind ourselves how we got to where we are. and don't ever think that there is ever anything self-executing about democracy. in this museum, in every movement of every child that's going to walk through this door, in the hand of a parent and believes that he or she can do anything. why? because we're american.
why? because we hold these truths self-evident. why? because it's all about the consent of the governed. that's what makes us different. that's what makes us special. and that's why it's such an incredible honor to be able to stand here for the opening of this museum before so many of my fellow americans. god bless you all, and may god protect our troops. thank you. [cheering and applauding]specia.
thee ♪ ♪ and crown thy hood with brotherhood from sea to shining sea ♪ america ♪ ♪ america ♪ america >> this saturday is earth day and in washington, d.c. protesters are gathering on the national mall for the march for science rally at speeches from scientists and activists along with musical performances. watch our live coverage starting at 10:00 a.m. eastern and
cspan.org and listen live with the cspan radio app. the american spirit who we are and what we stand for, a selection of the speeches going back to 1989. the 20th century senator who has been written about the most is joe mccarthy. there are a dozen books about mccarthy. there's no biography of the senator who had the backbone to stand up to him first. >> do you remember how you went about preparing for that speech. check out our cspan classroom.